With more than 15 years of renovating under my belt, I can comfortably say that I have almost seen it all! Whether it’s a small or a large project, planning for and renovating a home requires intense deliberation and commitment.

TO RENOVATE OR NOT TO RENOVATE? It seems a simple question, but there are some very important considerations to ensure a positive, gratifying outcome.

For example –

  • Who can I rely on to give me sensible advice?
  • Should I use an architect or a building s designer?
  • How far should I go?
  • What are the most important rooms to consider?
  • What will it cost?
  • Will the renovation add additional value to my property?
  • Will I need Council approval beforehand?
  • Do I need a builder?
  • Could I project manage it myself?

And so it goes on!

These are all really important questions. The answers to some will depend on whether your renovation is for the purpose of enjoying your existing home for many more years to come, or whether you’re renovating simply to increase the property’s resale value. Either way, you must be very thorough in your research. I have found that a successful renovation can be a wonderfully positive life changing experience and I’d love for all home renovators to have a similar experience.

Research is such a crucial part of renovating but this process is typically complicated and time consuming. So much so, that it causes some to err on the side of caution, deciding not to proceed. In my mind this could be a great opportunity lost! Worse still, some proceed without having done sufficient research and very often face extra anxiety and unwelcomed cost blows.

Before you begin you must be very clear on whether you are considering the renovation for immediate resale or to create a bigger, better home for yourself. Sounds obvious I know, but the approaches should be quite different – especially the budget, but also the design and special features. If the purpose is to sell and maximise your return, you should renovate with your head and not your heart, always keeping the prospective buyer in mind – your local real estate agent will be able to help you with this. You can waste a whole lot of money renovating a home that YOU love but your buyers don’t! I’m not suggesting that quality should be compromised but you will need to be clever about achieving a high end finish and performance without that high end cost. We are pretty lucky today with so many reasonably priced, amazing products available. Save on these and perhaps put some of those savings towards one or two WOW factors to help sell the home.

If you’re upgrading for you &/or your family the decisions will be driven primarily by your own needs and preferred style of living. Notwithstanding, the same budgeting principles should apply, except that in this case you have the luxury of knowing that, if you’ve researched and prepared well, over time your money will be returned, and some.

Either way, any renovation will require significant expenditure of time and money, so please take the time to think it through carefully beforehand, don’t jump in unprepared. This will save you a lot of heartache and possible cost pain at the end. Once you’ve decided to take the plunge,

  • do the leg work
  • go to open home inspections
  • read as many house magazines as you can
  • watch informative lifestyle programs, etc

IE, do anything and everything that will help you gather your thoughts and ideas.

Please be realistic about costs, don’t expect a very high end outcome with a very low end budget. Most people usually underestimate the cost of renovating. In my experience, renovating is typically higher per square metre than building from scratch. My approximate average cost per square metre rule of thumb is – low end $1400, medium end $1850, high end $2250, very high end $2700 – it’s certainly not precise, and of course market factors constantly change, but, it will give you an idea.

Research suppliers, and be sure to check that the licence of the builder, trades person, installer, etc is current. Ask for client referrals, including from various materials suppliers, and take the time to make those calls before you finally decide.

Be clear about the desired outcome in terms of the physical spaces, your preferred fixtures and fittings, and, of course, your budget and STICK TO THAT PLAN. There are so many new products and ideas regularly coming to the market it can be distracting. I’ve always found that the best method is to research, decide, then move on to the next decision – I rarely look back (doing so usually costs money!)

There will be heartaches, delays and problems to solve for sure, but you must stay focussed and on top of progress. In this way you’ll minimise stress levels and, as a bonus, earn the respect of your builder and trades.

So, prepare. prepare, prepare. Know your product and its cost. And most of all, be resilient!